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Tori couldnâ€™t stifle a moan as the almost-pain of exerting muscles that seldom got used kicked in. Itâ€™d been a long time. Too long.
Panting slightly, she enjoyed the stretch as perspiration beaded across her glowing skin. She strained towards the pleasure she felt hovering just beyond reach.
Almost there. Almost thereâ€¦
Oh no. Side stitch.
And a cramp.
Tori limped to an abrupt halt, pressing her hands to the sharp ache in her lower abdomen while scoping out a relatively clean spot on the kerb to collapse on. Using one hand to frantically massage her spasming calf, Tori had to use some of her very limited breath to laugh out loud at her dilemma as the humour of the situation struck her. So much for a brilliant start on her goals.
"I was going to offer you some help, but it sounds like youâ€™re doing okay now."
The deep voice must belong to the person wearing the running shoes in front of her, but for the life of her, Tori couldnâ€™t look up just then, concentrating on her inexpert massage while trying to breathe through the pain in her side.
"Oh, no. Not okay. But I had a feeling this would happen. It was going too well, know what I mean? First time Iâ€™ve run in years."
A warm, sympathetic chuckle. "Well, you were looking good, right up until you seized up."
"Iâ€™ll bet that was pretty comical to watch. Ah, ah!" The cramp in her leg spiked painfully in spite of her efforts. Why the hell had she thought she could start exercising again? All at once she felt every year of her age. Oh to be a teen again, when she could run without any effort at all.
"Here, you have to flex it. No, donâ€™t point!" Strong hands forced her foot back towards her body as her rescuer knelt before her like Cinderellaâ€™s prince. "Deep breaths, really deep. Fill your belly. Thatâ€™ll help your stitch."
"Howâ€™d you know I had a stitch in my side?" Tori panted, curled up in as close to a ball as she could get with one leg stuck out in front of her.
"I could tell by the way you suddenly grabbed your stomach like youâ€™d been shot. Now donâ€™t pant, breathe deep." The steady voice was soothing, but demanded compliance.
Abandoning the short blows vaguely reminiscent of those sheâ€™d seen in movie birthing rooms, Tori obeyed, inhaling until she felt dizzy then letting the air whoosh out. Those hands had displaced hers on her calf, and she felt a moment of panic trying to remember whether sheâ€™d shaved her legs that morning. She winced at the thought of stubbly legs then realised that her side stitch was almost gone and the cramp was easing.
"Does that hurt?"
"No, feels good." A little too good. The man had great hands, and Tori was starting to get some ideas about other kind of exertion he could help her with.
Great hands and observant. Tori started to uncurl herself bit by bit, ready to coil back up at the first sign of pain.
"Thatâ€™s it, hon. Here, stretch your other leg out for me." He slid his hand along the back of her uninjured leg, encouraging her to ease it out straight, making her think again about the shaving bit. Yes, she realised with reliefâ€”she must be freshly shaved, else she wouldnâ€™t have worn shorts. She knew herself that well at least.
Once in a regular sitting position, she finally got a look at her Good Samaritan, and almost felt herself seize up again.
Tori was in the presence of perfection. It was as if all the women in the world had got together and held a summit to design the most gorgeous man possible, then gave him great hands and sent him out to rescue damsels in distress.
Warm hazel eyes set off by irritatingly long lashes smiled encouragingly at her, so close that every blink looked as if it was in slow motion. Ruggedly handsome features, smooth skin, luscious lipsâ€”and that was just his face. His short dark hair had a hint of wave to it, settling perfectly in place even while exercising.
He had to be a model. Or he should be. Him on anything would equal sales through the roof.
His muscular arms were revealed by a sleeveless grey T- shirt, which was rather restrained of himâ€”most of the similarly buffed young guys who had passed her running today went shirtless altogether. It was loose enough that Tori couldnâ€™t get an idea of his torso, but she just knew heâ€™d be ripped. Wouldnâ€™t match the rest of him otherwise, and that would be a shame. His running shorts were also on the conservative side compared to what sheâ€™d seen, but the legs kneeling between hers wereâ€¦
Oh mercy. She had a man between her legs. Did that count?
Nope, gotta be full-on sex to cross it off the list.
Her gaze snapped back up to his, and his helpfully concerned expression hadnâ€™t changed, precisely. But there was a hint of awareness there now that made Tori wish she was ten years younger. Or maybe fifteen.
Because if he was closer to thirty than twenty, sheâ€™d eat her running shoes.
He introduced himself, "Iâ€™m Adam."
Iâ€™m Eve, wanna bite my apple?